It might sound hard to believe, but Pirates - the rabble rousing, swashbuckling kind - really are the social and business role models we need.
Very few people know the real story.
In the late 1600s, a group of disillusioned, disenfranchised young sailors pioneered entirely new ways of living and working. Be More Pirate, the bestselling book by Sam Conniff, tells the untold history of these Golden Age Pirates - how they took on the establishment and rewrote the rules of their day.
Uncovering that story was a lot of fun, but what happened next, (and Sam will attest to this), is even more interesting. This is where I come in.
I began working with Sam in January 2019. My starting gift was a folder of around five hundred unread emails from readers describing how the book had impacted them. There were revelations and resignations, groups getting together to write their own pirate codes, and people inside some of the world’s biggest corporations who were no longer asking for permission to change the rules. We quickly realised that the book was turning into a movement.
I’ve spent the last year getting to know our crew, understanding what all this rebellion amounts to, and how we might support them to spread the ideas. Sam and I have since been invited into hundreds of organisations to work with teams and apply the spirit of piracy to the complexities of 21st century work.
If Be More Entrepreneurial was the mantra for the late 20th century, then Be More Pirate is what we need as we head into the middle of the 21st, with all the challenges it is likely to bring.
Pirates never tried to take on the establishment alone, the secret to their success was the crew. Because of this, whether we’re working with a team, or across a sector, Sam and I always champion the concept of a mutiny; a moment in time when a group of people come together and agree to overturn the rules or try a new way of doing things, and are willing to hold each other accountable to being that change.
We caught up with Alex on the 3rd of April 2020 to talk about everything that I’ve learnt from our community about what it means to be a modern pirate; how to really challenge mainstream thinking, clear the decks of pointless work, close the gap between intention and action, build strong crews, and tell a great story.
Watch it back here
As one of the crew once said to me: “we’re not in this to be liked, we’re in it to be heard.”